Roughly, 62% of the world’s population uses social media, which amounts to over four billion people.
That number represents a growing tidal wave of people that are turning to social media to share the latest news with their own followers, promote a brand to their friends, or make a purchasing decision.
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Integrating social media into your business marketing efforts is now a must. Social media is becoming more often than not, the conduit in which people, are not only being introduced to brands, but also the platform for how they interact with brands.
If your business has a website and has social media profiles, it’s time to marry the two for a harmonious union that will bond your brand with your core audience. In order for your brand to reap the all of the benefits that social media integration has to offer, there are a number of key steps you must implement in an orderly fashion for it to appear seamless in the eyes of your target audience.
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With having a seamless plan for integration in mind, below are seven key steps and one bonus tip to that will allow you to successfully weave social media into your brand’s online presence.
But, before sharing the key steps and bonus, you must consider your business website the dashboard for growing your brand. Not your Facebook page, or Twitter account. Your website is where people actually buy your products or services. Social media just helps them to discover or follow your brand.
Social Media Integration Guide
Step One: Make social links visible on your website
Your website should have social media links or buttons that are dynamic and very obvious.
Using the header and right side bar of your website or company blog are prime real estate for placing your social media account links. People read left to right and always land on websites from the top and read from the header down. It is not a bad idea to also include your links in the footer of your website as well, because, if your content engaged them enough, they scrolled all the way to the bottom. Having more than one location on your website that is connected to your social media profiles, just increases the opportunities for viewers to connect with your brand via those channels.
Step Two: Display your Tweets and/or Facebook posts on your site
Doing so allows visitors to notice how engaged you are with your followers and how you represent your brand.
Step Three: Include share buttons on your company website
This is slightly different then linking up your social media profiles through buttons placed on your website. Share buttons allow viewers to share your content with the social networks that they belong to, no matter if your company has an account with those sites or not.
For example, your company publishes a white paper on how to save money in a down economy. A website visitor reads it, and shares it with her own Twitter followers because she found it helpful and thought her followers would too.
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There are a number of websites that you can use to grab a social sharing bar. The following offer free downloads:
These share buttons or bars can be floating on the left or right side of your website, on the header, footer, or even at the end of your blog posts. Share buttons also does wonders for increasing your Klout score (a measurement of your social media influence). Social media integration is rooted in the premise of what share buttons should deliver. If your company provides a visually appealing sharing bar or widget, and your content is compelling, your brand message will spread, and have the potential to go viral. If one of your articles or blog posts or You Tube videos goes viral (from re-tweets, Facebook likes, Google + pluses, re-pins) then your brand will benefit from the wave of new traffic.
Step Four: Use Google Analytics or KISSmetrics to discover traffic sources to your site
Google Analytics is no secret. It is a trusted resource for discovering where your online traffic is coming from and when and KISSmetrics essentially does the same. Both aim to share with site owner’s insights into their web traffic.
Google Analytics was the pioneer, and consistently works to provide timely and relevant data to the clientele base it serves. One of the key benefits of Google Analytics is its Social Analytics arm. It will provide your company with detailed analysis with how people are sharing your brand online through your social media integration efforts. Google Analytics is also good on your company budget, because it is free, if your site receives 10 million views or less each month, which most businesses fall under.
KISSmetrics on the other hand has a sharp focus on the engagement of individuals with the brands they encounter.
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With KISSmetrics, your company will know exactly when and why someone decided to engage or connect with your brand. The chief reason why using KISSmetrics or Google Analytics is crucial for social media integration for your business is because it allows you to measure what social media platforms are working best for your brand. The old adage of, “knowing is half the battle”, rings very true for businesses that are using social media with the hopes of it strengthening their online presence and yielding an increase in sales. These two company’s provide your company with invaluable insight into consumer behavior that you would never be able to get, so use them to your full advantage.
Step Five: Offer a social media login option
More and more people are using their LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter account to login to a website or blog for full access. This field is really beginning to gain ground.
Online marketing experts estimate that about, 80% of those with LinkedIn accounts, preferred to use their profile to login to websites that catered to business professionals, in 2012. If you present this option on your website, then you are giving visitors choice, and in today’s age of social media, choice is prized almost above all else with consumers. A huge bonus to offering a social login option is that you will be able to discover what social media platforms people used most to engage with your brand.
Step Six: Encourage comments on your company blog and e-newsletters
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One of the easiest ways to have social media integration for your brand is to encourage comments and even suggestions on your company blog and e-newsletters. People enjoy “speaking to brands” via comments because it is their way of getting up close and personal with your brand. There are a couple of ways how you can encourage your site visitors to do so:
- You can have a jpeg image created that clearly states “COMMENTS WELCOME” and place it on the right sidebar of your blog.
- You can end your blog post with a question that relates to the post topic to pique reader’s interest that prompts them to comment.
- You can also end each e-newsletter with a call to action to “please feel free to leave feedback or comments on our website HERE” with the HERE being a link to your company blog.
Often times, once a few comments start flooding in, it snowballs and becomes a place where active engagement is occurring. Plus, the comments section is also a prime area to place a social sharing bar on your blog. Keep in mind that your company must have a dedicated representative that will serve as your social media community manager and respond to comments timely.
Step Seven: Use the popularity of video and photos to encourage sharing
The saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words” is more like a thousand “likes” or “tweets” in the world of social media. People are highly visual, and enjoy sharing images or video that they find compelling. Your company should be implementing video and pictures into its ongoing online marketing mix. Make sure you spread the word across all of your social media networks to attract a wider reach.
BONUS: Test what Works
Integrating social media into your business will require you to test out what works on an on-going basis. Doing so is the only way to grow and reap the benefits of being “keyed in” to your customer base to meet their needs.
Having a solid step-by-step plan for integrating social media into your business brand will do nothing but take out the guesswork, save you time, and allow for seamless implementation. Social media is only going to become more robust and led by consumers, you need to ensure that your brand is ready to welcome the ever-growing manner in how consumers interact with your brand.